A couple of weeks ago, my son and I was having a conversation about climate change, and I was asking the question on why the varying degrees of acceptance in responsibility; why do people ask the same questions repeatedly, and as if they aren’t already answered by scientists; why the ambiguity?
He said, “because people don’t want to know.”
Even last night as we revisited this topic, he said, “and I know, and it’s hard for me to believe it, so imagine those that don’t want to know.”
Since the first time he said that, I’ve been observing my own internal response to things in my life – outside of climate change – in relation to how much I want to know, or how much responsibility I want to take. So far, it seems to correlate directly the level of ownership I want to take and the level of ambiguity I experience around it.
We didn’t want to know about the Holocaust when we first learned about it in America. Right now, we don’t want to know about other genocides. Many still don’t want to know about past and current atrocious behaviors against certain races, genders, and religions. And we don’t want to know about our own individual acts of psychological self dis-memberment, under which we attempt to protect and persecute ourselves all at once, not allowing us to live fully by taking responsibility to re-member who we are, clear out the crap, and make choices that will bring us back to wholeness.
It seems strange to start a paragraph with the Holocaust and end with our individual wholeness, but not so when we look through the lens: as is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm. When we want to change the world, as Michael Jackson sings, we need to look at the Man in the Mirror. Our insistence on closing our eyes to our part in the persecution of the world, including our planet, feels daunting and unproductive when there is work to do. It’s so much easier to point at others and articulate their mistakes. We feel righteous, like we solved something for the moment. But to look in the mirror and to acknowledge our own destructive, persecuting ways is step one in acknowledging something that needs to be looked at and bringing power back to us so that we may honestly begin to turn ourselves around, beginning with small acts of self-care, self-love, and forgiveness. As we see and heal ourselves, we begin to see and heal the world.